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Professor Acquitted

A former University of Tennessee professor has been acquitted of charges connected to allegations he hid ties to a Chinese university, the Knoxville News-Sentinel reports.

Anming Hu, a nanotechnology researcher, had been charged with wire fraud and making false statements. Prosecutors alleged that he did not disclose his work in China while receiving NASA funding for his work at Tennessee, as the Wall Street Journal previously reported. But as the News-Sentinel notes, Hu included his position at the Beijing University of Technology on paperwork and in his academic profile.

According to the News-Sentinel, the jury in the trial became deadlocked, which led to a mistrial and to the defense seeking an acquittal. That, Science adds, was granted by US District Judge Tom Varlan. Varlan writes in his ruling that "no rational jury could conclude [Hu] acted with a scheme to defraud NASA in failing to disclose his affiliation with BJUT."

As the News-Sentinel notes, other researchers have also been caught up in the China Initiative, begun by the Trump Administration to uncover academic and economic spies at US universities. The effort has been criticized as racist as most researchers targeted have been Chinese or Chinese American.

The Journal adds that many other cases — which largely have focused on fraud linked to visa or grant programs rather than the theft of trade secrets — have fallen apart.